Shadows in the Desert

By G A Kulkarni

If Hamlet, one of Shakespeare’s great tragic heroes, said of man, ‘What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties,…- And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me-no, nor woman neither,’ we have, after about four centuries, G.A.Kulkarni, an outstanding short story writer in Marathi, to present a similar portrait of mankind. To G.A., human beings, quintessentially made up of dust, seem to be mere ‘shadows in the desert,’ and hence look so unsubstantial. And though their hands seemingly join together, their shadows are simply extending unto the grave beyond. G.A.Kulkarni tries to outline an image of a complex network of unfathomable destiny in his stories to bring out the uncertainty and absurdity in human life that lies underneath the tragic potential of human predicament. In this sense, G.A.’s worldview has affinity not only with the great tragic poets of ancient Greece but also the Absurd playwrights and Existentialist thinkers of the 20th century. Following the first volume A Journey Forever (2010), thirteen more Short story masterpieces by G.A.Kulkarni are presented in English translation in Shadows in the Desert. The collection illustrates almost all types of short fiction by the Sahitya Akademi Award winning author: realistic stories rooted in the Indian soil (Kasaab : The Butcher, Kavathe:Wood Apples, Chandrawal : The Dancing Pigeon), fantastic but epiphanic tales- a type unparalleled in the history of Short story form at World Literature level- (The Slave, The Messenger, Vidooshak: The Fool), fictional reworking and reinterpretation of Indian and western myths in Mukti: Deliverance and Yaatrik: The Crusader respectively as well as metaphorical/symbolic tales of revelation heavily laden with multiple meanings like Bali: Victim of Sacrifice?, Soyare:Kinsmen, and Anaamik: Anonymous.

G A Kulkarni
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Vilas Salunke is a retired Professor of English and literary translator from Pune, Maharashtra. Though he normally translates Marathi literature into English, he has occasionally translated from English into Marathi as well. He holds a Ph.D. on Robert Frost’s poetry. He has published several research articles in reputed journals on modern British and American poets and writers. On a Cambridge University scholarship, he studied at Cambridge, U.K., in l993. Of late, he has been an active translator of Marathi poetry and fiction into English. He published Blooms of the Earth, (Writers Workshop, Kolkata, 1999) English translation of selected poems of Kusumagraj, a Dyanpeeth Award winner Marathi litterateur. His translation of 14 G.A. Kulkarni short stories, A Journey Forever: Iskilaar and Other Stories (Frog Books, Leadstart Publishing, Mumbai, 2010) received critical attention from all quarters. He has recently translated Sadanand Deshmukh’s Baromaas: Twelve Enduring Months (Popular Prakashan, Mumbai, 2013), a regional novel of contemporary significance. The only major work of Marathi translation he has to his credit is a 500-page authoritative biography of Steve Jobs by Water Issacson (Diamond Publications, Pune, 2011). Reach him at vilasalunke@gmail.com.